Golden gate, as the main entrance to the palace premises, has been decorated with special care given to the architectural beauty. The idols present at the top of the door signify the epitome of Nepali architectural richness. Interestingly, the gold that has been used to adorn the door was bought selling the valuable coppers that were present in the ancient palace . . .
As the door is the formal entry gateway towards the palace, the Swarna Dwar, or the Golden Door, has been constructed with special care given to materials used for adorning the gate. The door welcomes visitors with two lion images on its either side. Atop the male lion is Lord Shiva and Shakti is riding on the female lion. They have been installed at the front gates of the Hanumandhoka as a sign of security of the palace. While the two icons are from the Malla period, the golden gate itself is a later addition as evidenced by the inscription above the door which states that it was built during the period of King Girvana Yudda Bir Bikran Shah Dev. The inscription mentions that several copper plates were sold and gold was purchased which was moulded to create the frame for the current door. Atop the golden door sits the icon of Vishwarup which Lord Krishna showed during Mahabharata.
Sisa Baithak (Glass hall) derives its name from its unique design theme – glasses. Although the use of glasses is common in modern architectural design, it was rare in the time of construction of the monument. Hence, the monument came to be known as Sisa Baithak. It was used by the rulers for holding meetings as well as observing events on Nasal chowk . . .
Beyond the Narsingha chowk, there is a long gallery called the Sisa Baithak. It got its name from the use of glass themed design which was very rare during the time of construction of the building. This monument was actually an audience chamber for the Malla kings. They used to observe dances as well as hold audiences with the public from this place itself. On the center is placed a simple spacious throne which used to be used by the kings while they were administering the events. It’s still in use today for different purposes. For instance, every Basant Panchami, Buddhist monks come here and offer betel and betel nut to the throne. On the wall behind the throne are displayed the portraits of the Shah rulers of Nepal, which still is intact and can be observed.
One of the four towers residing on the Lohan Chowk, Bangla tower lies on the northwestern front of the courtyard. This monument, also popularly known as Kirtipur tower, looks distinct from the other three towers present. However, this unique curvy design of Bangla tower came into existence only after the renovation after a massive 1990 earthquake . . .
The Bangla Tower lies on the northwestern frontier of the Lohan Chowk. Out of the four towers present in the Bangla Chowk, it has its own unique fascination. The copper roof of this tower is of most peculiar design and complexity, and it is unparalleled in Nepali architecture. Although the name of both the designers as well as the inspiration of the design (it’s unprecedented in Nepali architectural history!), it does provide a perfect counterpoint to the towers that lay beyond it. Matching Bilas Temple and Laxmi Bilas Tower in height, the Bangla Tower offers a clear, concise view into the courtyard of Nasal Chowk and across the roofs to the Degutaleju Mandir and Jagannath Temple in the Hanumandhoka area.
Bilas Tower, commonly referred to as Bhaktapur Tower, is another tower-resident of the four towers of Lohan Chowk. It lies on the southeastern front of the courtyard. Bilas can be literally translated into the words happiness / enjoyment / relaxation. Therefore, we can easily speculate that this tower was used for entertainment purposes by the Shah rulers . . .
The Bilas Mandir lies on the southeastern part of the Lohan Chowk. The tower’s name, Bilas, means enjoyment and relaxation. The tower was named as Bilas Tower because it used to be used by the Shah rulers for entertainment purposes. It rises two storeys above the roof of the quadrangle. The view from the window of this tower is absolutely spectacular, and when lavish gardens were laid out directly below, as once they were, its charm must have lay in the view of these gardens from a place high enough to provide perspective and to gather in the slightest breeze on a summer day.
Another one among the four towers residing on the Lohan Chowk is Laxmi Bilas Tower. Bangla tower, otherwise known as Bhaktapur tower, lies on the northeastern front of the courtyard. It was used by the Shah rulers to pray to the Hindu goddess of wealth – Laxmi . . .
Laxmi Bilas Tower, located in the northeastern part of the quadrangle, also rises two storeys above the general roof level of the courtyard. It too looked out over the gardens. However, the most beautiful view from this tower was the unobstructed view of the divine Taleju Temple that lies directly to its north. It also commanded a direct view of Mul Chowk which lies exactly below it.
Basantapur Kailash, the nine storeyed colossal tower on the southwestern front of the Lohan Chowk, was built by King Prithivi Narayan Shah. It was used for two purposes: residence and inspection (because of its height). The tower, being the royal residence, has been the reason for the colloquial name of the Durbar premises – Basantapur . . .
Basantapur Tower, also called Kathmandu Tower, lies in the southwestern part of the Lohan Chowk. This was the first tower that King Prithivi Narayan Shah had started building after his conquest over Kathmandu in the palace premises. Actually, different inscriptions have pointed out that the tower could have possibly existed before the king started his tower construction initiative. However, regardless of whatever was the case, this tower served as a residential quarter to the Malla Kings.
The Basantapur tower outshines all other towers in the quadrangle – both in terms of height and dramaticness. It rises five floors above the general level of buildings in the Durbar Square! It has acted as a symbol of pride today that the great King Prithivi Narayan Shah saw fit to build his palace in Kathmandu in Nepali style, which not only demonstrated his appreciation for the traditional architecture, but also established a firm precedent that remained until the mid nineteenth century. Although the tower has been built using Nepali architecture, although the tower has adopted Malla construction philosophies, this tower deserves all the time in the world to study it. It is a true work of art – especially with its finely carved roof struts, excellent windows, and the poetry of roofs rising over roofs.
Unique and exquisite because of its neo-classical European design, Gaddi Baithak was built by Prime Minister Chandra Shumser after his return from Europe visit. It was used as a meeting quarters by the Rana rulers – even by Shah kings – which ranged from internal meetings to diplomatic engagements with foreign emissaries . . .
Gaddi Baithak built in 1908 by Chandra Sumsher is the latest addition to the Hanumandhoka Palace Complex, and the grand hall construction has been influenced by the neo-classical architecture in Europe. This hall was originally built for receiving the foreign delegates when the diplomatic relations with the foreign nation started in Nepal in the 20th century.. Foreign delegates were invited by the king to observe the elaborate festival of Indra Jatra from the western balcony of the Gaddi Baithak, and it continues today with the invitation from the head of the state.
Inside the hall, there is an extensive use of colors for the purposes of ornamentation. Pressed tin ornamentation appliques, cornices, wall cladding, as well as ceiling tiles have been used along with the cast iron balustrade for the staircase and balcony. The floral motifs have been widely used on the interior ceiling and the cornices where animal, bird, and human figures form parts of the wall decoration in the form of metal appliques.
Shah-kalin dhukuti, as the name defines, was used as a treasury for the Shah monarchs during the Shah dynasty. It has a distinctive circular architecture, and the security system is also quite intricate. Currently, the treasury is empty, and it is used as a temporary museum . . .
The Shah Kalin dhukuti, located in the Bhandarkhal Garden, was used by the Shah Kings to store their treasury until they moved to the Narayanhiti Palace. Although the treasury has been replaced by a museum established by the Hanumandhoka Development Committee, we can still feel the security that was provided to the treasury. The locking systems are intricate, and the treasury is fortified behind circular walls. Currently, a museum with the theme “Resilience within the Rubble” is running here with a purpose to showcase how the Hanumandhoka suffered yet survived the devastating earthquake of 2015 in Nepal.
Malla kalin-dhukuti, corresponding to the Shah dhukuti, was a treasury used by the Malla rulers. Interestingly, although the Shah treasury has already been emptied– possibly because of the migration to a new palace – this treasury still holds the valuables from the Malla era. It can be verified by the heavy security that guards the treasury. . .
Just beyond the Shah Kalin Dhukuti lies the Malla Kalin Dhukuti – or we can call it a treasury of the Malla era. It’s been heavily surrounded by shrubs, and the doors are sealed with tight 24/7 protection from the army. Don’t mistake the shrubs that surround it as low maintenance work. They’re actually stinging nettles planted there on purpose to stop any perpetrators from getting in. Yes, as you might have already guessed, it still contains the valuable artifacts from the Malla period. However, no one is allowed to open the door unless there is a unanimous conscience from the public, the ministry, the military, and the administrators at Hanumandhoka. These treasuries were created as a backup in times the city went through a major economic crisis.